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The truth about weight loss surgery

Posted in Personal Health 18 Oct, 2012

In a world where weight-related health problems is becoming a growing concern, there aren't many options available for people who genuinely need help losing weight. Currently, apart from the prescription treatment Xenical, weight loss surgery is the next step and an option which is currently surrounded by extreme controversy.

Weight-loss surgery isn't a quick fix

National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) recently highlighted the lack of support offered to patients who have had or who are considering weight loss surgery. Private healthcare have seemed to have come off looking the worst though, with many private firms offering promotions and misleading advertising to entice people to have surgery.

Some of the promotions even had time limits or clauses that could have caused patients to lose their deposit should they not want to go through with the surgery. However, the decision to get weight loss surgery is a big one, and most definitely not a quick-fix, which many people who've had the surgery can attest to.

Obscured representation

Non-emergency surgery is never something that should be entered into lightly, but it's often easy to resort to if there aren't many alternatives left to aid weight loss. However, the reality of weight loss surgery is often obscured by celebrity endorsements and impressive before and after images. In truth, weight loss can remain a challenge no matter which option you choose.

Types of surgery

Fundamentally, there are two different types of surgery that can be performed to aid weight loss, restrictive or malapsorptive/restrictive. Gastric band surgery is a common type of restrictive surgery that can be performed and gastric bypass surgery is a version of malapsorpitive/restrictive surgery.

gastric band surgery gastric bypass surgery

Gastric band surgery is surgery that helps to restrict the size of the stomach, thereby making it so that you feel fuller faster, so it's less likely that you'll overeat.

Gastric bypass surgery tends to be far more invasive and works by bypassing part of the stomach so that it takes much less food for you to feel full and makes it more difficult for the stomach to absorb calories. There may be different methods of performing these surgeries or variations that can be adapted to suit patients better.

Lack of support

One of the main issues mentioned in the NCEPOD report was a lack of pre and post surgery support. Joyce Connealy told BBC Breakfast that she didn't receive any advice when she was asked what kind of support she received before her surgery. Although support before making the decision to get surgery is very important, adequate aftercare is also vital in ensuring that patients get the most benefit after surgery, as this is an extremely vulnerable period emotionally and physically.

Weight loss surgery will require you to follow a controlled diet and do regular exercise. People who have had weight loss surgery will also have to ensure that they eat smaller portions, but to offset this, more regular meals will be required. Bypass surgery, especially, carries with it a risk of malnutrition and therefore vitamin supplements may have to be taken to supplement your diet with vitamins.

Because a patient's diet changes so drastically as a result of surgery - you may only be recommended soups for the first week after surgery, for example - it is likely that you'll lose weight very quickly. This quick weight loss can lead to folds of lose skin remaining after weight loss, which may require further surgical correction. It can also be quite traumatic to adjust to a new diet, so it's important to be in a supportive stable environment where these can be incorporated with as little disruption as possible.

Making an informed decision

Although weight loss surgery offers help to many people who are at serious risk of health problems, it should always be entered into taking all the facts into consideration. The NHS, for example will only consider a person for weight loss surgery if they have a BMI over 40 or have a BMI over 35 and in serious risk of health complications, although private firms have less strict criteria. This doesn't mean that having weight loss surgery performed is a bad thing, but it's important to make yourself aware of all the facts and alternate options, such as prescription weight loss treatment, before considering it.

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